Humans vs animals, a dichotomy old as the evolution. A brutal behavior is still labeled as “beastly”, on the other hand animalists say that those “beasts” are better than humans. We put a lot of efforts to distinguish: we use bathrooms, we write, articulate words, we dress and make art. But deep down we got the same instinct: eat, reproduce, defend the territory. It’s always like a final step is missing.
First, we have to clarify that talking about “animals” is too vague. With 9 million species, a whale and an acarus are hardly comparable, or a monkey with a frog and so on. Still, humanity too has problems with being gathered together, with all the infinite differences for culture, age, gender, origins. But let’s take this as a game.
Xenophobes around the world aren’t, at a first glance, different from animals in their habitat. But for those is really “kill or be killed”, for us is make believe, is like a fetish for a land we’ve just born in, no credits for that. Similar attitude with the females. Most animals kill to procreate, or just to have the best or even all the partners, like the alpha walrus does. Some male chimps kill the babies that aren’t their. Awful, as we don’t know this jealousy feelings!
We hunt for sport, animals kill other species just to survive. Mostly true, but with exceptions that we should know very well. The laziest fattest domestic cat have to train anyway, no matter how much is feeded. And it will do it with some unlucky bird, mouse, insect which won’t even be eaten. Big sized dogs do that too, maybe with a chicken or a smaller dog.
But what about torture? Wars, robberies, gang rivalries, jails, even schools, hospitals and hospices, we always got news of many forms of torture. But mother nature is no less. Some kind of wasps developed an ingenious way to provide their kids with fresh meat. They paralize spiders, take them in their nests and lay eggs on their abdomen. The newborn will have food until their self-sufficiency. And the spider will die really slowly, bit by bit. Quentin Tarantino, look and learn.
Clan wars or civil wars aren’t our prerogative, every organized and hierarchical society will use repression to preserve order and fights to change it. Envy for the power is felt not only by humans. Some monkeys refuse to do tasks if they see that the reward isn’t like the one for their mates. But the privileged one feel solidarity too.
The ultimate hierarchy form is mind control. We use psychological violence more than physical violence. Leucochloridium worms are the real masterminds. They live in some birds stomachs, until expelled with feces and eaten by a snail. Once in the new body, they infiltrate to the brain, with wonderful colorful effects, altering the snail nervous system and making the poor host behave against their nature. They become diurnal animals, increasing their risks to get attacked by birds, so the cycle can continue, bird, snail, bird.
Some flies in Brazil go way further, worse than Dario Argento ’80s horror movies. They lay eggs inside ants, which usuaylly aren’t really empathetic and push away the sick infected individuals. So these smart flies understood that the ant have to look healthy. Until the larva releases some chemical substance that destroy the ant tissue and get out from the beheaded body of the unwilling host.
Another kind of worm lives inside the crickets intestines, and has just one way to get out. Pushing the host to suicide itself. Crickets don’t love water, but this parassite eliminates his will and will make it drown. Like an extreme bully, or like the game Blue Whale, probably not invented in Russia but by some funny worm.
Other times conduct is consciously messed up. Humans don’t have copyright on alcohol and drugs. Some birds love fermented fruit, because they get inebriated by the sugar level. Other gnats get consolation in “alcohol” when rejected by females. Many southamerican populations think that jaguars eat psychoactive plants, which extend their senses when they hunt. Like soldiers did (or still do) with cocaine and amphetamine. Opposite effect, the australian wallaby devastates poppy fields just to pass out high. Kinda like the tender koala, on which eucalyptus has a similar effects. That’s why they go mad for it. Side effect, they get so stoned they can’t escape fires, when there’s one. But if we consider that the koala is also a merciless rapist, the picture is less sad.
So, those were just some examples on how the beahaviour of humans and animals can sometimes look alike, full of useless cruelties. We try to give an apparent image of civil evolution, not a problem for animals, obviously. We are the only species who can endanger all the others at the same time. But also the only one who actually cares, we don’t see eagles protesting against panda extinction or fishes boycotting palm oil because its productions devastates the forest. They say humans are the only animals blushing because of shame. And the only one who has a reason for it.